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NY Times Magazine: Lee Harvey Oswald Was My Friend

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Guest Robert Morrow

Lee Harvey Oswald Was My Friend


It was 7 a.m. on Sunday when the single phone at the bottom of the stairs echoed through my parents’ red-brick house, right off Monticello Park in Fort Worth. “Mr. Gregory,” a woman said as my father picked up, “I need your help.” Who are you? he asked in his Texas-Russian accent, still half-asleep.

The caller said only that she had been a student in his Russian language course at our local library, and that he knew her son. In that instant, my father, Pete Gregory, linked the voice to a nurse who sat in the back of his class and had once identified herself as “Oswald.” Until this phone call, he hadn’t realized that she was the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, a Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union only to return two and a half years later with a Russian wife and a 4-month-old daughter. My father helped Lee and his young family get settled in Fort Worth a year earlier. The Oswalds had been my friends.

My father now understood that the woman on the other end of the line, Marguerite Oswald, must have taken his class to communicate with her daughter-in-law, Marina, who spoke little English. It was also clear why she needed his help. Two days earlier, Marguerite’s son shot the president of the United States. While Lee Harvey Oswald was sitting in a Dallas jail cell, his wife and mother and two young daughters were hiding out at the Executive Inn, a commuter hotel near the airport, where they were taken and then abandoned by a team of Life magazine staff members. Marina Oswald had become the most wanted witness in America. She needed a translator fast.

Hours after the Kennedy assassination, my parents and I experienced the shared horror of realizing that the Lee Oswald we knew, the one who had been in our house and sat at our dinner table, was the same man who had just been accused of killing the president. The Secret Service first knocked on my parents’ door at 3 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 23, 1963. The following day, just 45 minutes after my father hung up with Marguerite, an agent named Mike Howard picked him up and drove him to a Howard Johnson’s on the Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike, where they met Robert Oswald, Lee’s brother. As the family’s translator of choice, my father was now part of the plan to get the Oswald women out of the dingy hotel room and into a safe house that Robert had arranged at his in-law’s farm, north of the city, so Marina could be questioned.

The scene at the Executive Inn was worse than my father had expected. Marina, already thin, appeared extremely gaunt; she was having difficulty breast-feeding Rachel, her younger daughter, who was not yet 5 weeks old. Marguerite, on the other hand, was having a fit; she refused to be sent out to the sticks, as she put it. My father talked her down, but as the men began packing the car, Agent Howard whispered that Lee Harvey Oswald had just been shot. Robert Oswald left for the hospital, but Howard and my father agreed not to mention the news to Marina or Marguerite yet.

On the car ride to the safe house, Marina pleaded with the agents to stop at the house of her friend, Ruth Paine, in Irving, Tex., to pick up extra children’s supplies. But reporters were already camped out in front of Paine’s yard, so the group was diverted to the home of the city’s police chief, C. J. Wirasnik. And it was there that my father told Marina, in Russian, that her husband just died. Marina, who never knew her father, said that she couldn’t bear that her two children would also grow up without one. Weeping uncontrollably, Marguerite shouted that, as an American citizen, she had as much right to see her son’s body as Jackie Kennedy had to see her husband’s. So eventually the group headed to Parkland Hospital, where Oswald had been taken and where a belligerent crowd was already growing outside. The doctors advised Marina against viewing Oswald’s body, which was yellow and pale, his face bruised, but Marina insisted; she wanted to see the wound that killed him. A doctor pulled up the sheet to reveal the area in his torso where Jack Ruby shot him.

With Oswald dead, Marina’s testimony became even more important, and the Secret Service immediately diverted the group to the nearby Inn of the Six Flags, ushering everyone into adjoining rooms 423 and 424. A single armed detective patrolled the grounds as Marina chain-smoked and drank coffee and was asked questions about Lee’s rifle, a photo of him holding the assassination weapon and his various associates. My father, who was then 59, translated furiously. All the while, Marguerite insisted that her son should be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and Robert patiently set out to find a funeral home that would bury the man accused of being the president’s assassin.

The next day, Monday morning, the Secret Service tried to keep the television set off, but Marina — once again drinking coffee and chain-smoking, with tears streaming down her face — insisted on watching the state funeral of John F. Kennedy. She had long admired the first lady and asked her husband to translate any magazine articles she could find about the president. She continued watching the broadcast until the agents had to rush her out so she could attend her own husband’s funeral at the Rose Hill Cemetery. That afternoon, the Lutheran minister failed to show up, and a number of reporters pitched in as pallbearers. After Marina returned to Six Flags, humiliated by the rushed service, my father consoled her by translating a telegram from a group of college students. “We send you our heartfelt sympathy,” the message read. “We understand your sorrow and share it. We are ashamed that such a thing could happen in our country. We beg you not to think ill of us.”

My father recounted that weekend’s events to me a few days later over Thanksgiving dinner, when I returned home from the University of Oklahoma, where I had just begun graduate school. Through my father, I had become a close — or, as Robert Oswald would later say, almost the only — friend of Lee and Marina Oswald’s from virtually the moment they arrived in Fort Worth, in June 1962, until the end of that November. While that five-month period might seem fleeting, it was a significant period in Oswald’s life. He was never in the same place for long. By age 17, he had already moved some 20 times. Then he dropped out of high school and joined the Marines, before being released and traveling to Moscow. He avoided deportation by attempting suicide and was sent to Minsk, where he met Marina. In the year and a half after he returned to the United States, he moved several more times. My friendship with him was perhaps the longest he’d ever had.

My family tried to put those tragic events behind us, but over the ensuing decades, as I became an academic and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, I felt compelled to combine my memories and the historical record to present my own sense of Oswald. Most Americans believe that Oswald shot Kennedy. Yet according to one recent A.P. poll, only a quarter of Americans believe that one man acted alone to kill Kennedy. “Would Oswald,” as Norman Mailer wrote, “pushed to such an extreme, have the soul of a killer?” As I pored back over those months, I realized that I was watching that soul take shape.

From nearly the moment I met Lee Harvey Oswald, it seemed that he felt the world had sized him up wrong. He wasn’t much of a student, and the Marines overlooked his talent. But now his luck was changing. As virtually the only American living in Minsk, he became something of a celebrity in that provincial capital. Oswald assumed his experience as an American living in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War would be tremendously valuable, and he was already drafting a memoir. He kept a journal, which he labeled “Historic Diary.” When he, Marina and little June touched down at Love Field, on June 14, 1962, he greeted his brother Robert by asking where the reporters were.

A week and a half after his return, he went to the 15th floor of the Continental Life Building in downtown Fort Worth. Earlier that morning, my father, a successful petroleum engineer, received a call from a young man who wanted certification of fluency in Russian. Rather than tell him that there wasn’t much of a market for a Russian translator in 1960s Texas, my father, who fled Siberia during the civil war, welcomed the chance to meet this fellow Russian speaker in person. He told him to come in for a meeting.

Around 11 a.m., with the temperature climbing into the 90s, a slight, 22-year-old Oswald arrived, drenched with sweat and wearing a wool suit. My father asked Oswald to translate passages from a Russian book he chose at random, and he was surprised at how well the young man performed. He asked his secretary to type out a “to whom it may concern” letter stating that one Lee Harvey Oswald was qualified to work as a translator, but he also told him that he knew of no jobs in the area that required knowledge of Russian. To soften the blow, he invited Oswald to lunch at the Hotel Texas, a block from his office, with its bustling dining room filled with deal-making oilmen, bankers and lawyers gnawing on Melba toast, a specialty. As they ordered their lunch, my father tried to engage Oswald about his wife and life in contemporary Russia, but the young man volunteered little about how a former Marine and Fort Worth resident could end up in Minsk other than to say enigmatically that he had “gone to the Soviet Union on my own.” Upon parting, Oswald offered the address and telephone number of his brother Robert, with whom he and his wife were staying, just in case anything came up.

Nothing did, of course, but there were so few émigrés in the area that the Dallas Russians, as my family called a group of their friends, felt protective of their own. A few days later, my father decided to check up on Oswald and his wife, and because I was around their age and home for the summer, he took me along. When we pulled up to the house on Davenport Street, we were greeted warmly by Robert Oswald, a tall and well-spoken man, who had served in the Marines and was working his way up to management at Acme Brick Company. Lee, by contrast, was restrained. He was short and wiry, his hairline noticeably receding, and he spoke with a Southern accent, not Texan, perhaps a relic of time spent in New Orleans during his youth.

Lee and Robert invited us in to meet Marina, who was slender, almost fragile, with a natural beauty. (Lee was one of several suitors back in Minsk.) She smiled rarely, if at all — a typical victim of Soviet dentistry, she was ashamed of her teeth. Lee explained to his wife in Russian that he had invited over a pair of fellow Russian speakers as a favor. And so my father, Pete, led the discussion by asking her questions about their voyage to the U.S., life in Minsk and what it was like to be a young person in the Soviet Union. Marina answered most of the questions, speaking quietly and occasionally showing photographs.

About a week later, my father and I drove 10 minutes from our house to Lee and Marina Oswald’s new home, a cramped one-bedroom duplex near the Montgomery Ward building. Their yard had a hardscrabble lawn burned yellow by the Texas summer sun, and the front door stood on a little porch, up a single concrete step. My father was taken by Marina. She was an engaging young woman who had already overcome a great deal — she was reared in a war-ravaged St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) littered with unmarked graves — and he wanted to help her. He asked Marina if she would offer me Russian lessons. Before we even set a fee, Marina agreed to see me twice a week. She seemed happy for the company.

The next Tuesday, at around 6 p.m., Marina invited me in for my first lesson. The Oswald living room was extraordinarily bare; there was a shabby sofa and chair and a worn coffee table where a copy of Time magazine featuring John F. Kennedy as its Man of the Year was prominently displayed. (The issue, which would curiously remain in the same place during all my visits, was dated Jan. 5, five months before the Oswalds’ arrival in the U.S.) We sat there uncomfortably for some 20 to 30 minutes until Lee burst in the door, dressed in his customary simple slacks, a plaid shirt with open collar and sleeves rolled up to the elbows, carrying a stack of weighty books from the Fort Worth public library. The conversation segued to the Time cover; Marina ventured that the president appeared to be a nice man and that the first lady, at least from the pictures she had seen, appeared quite glamorous. She also said that she seemed to be a good mother. Lee, in his curt way, agreed.

As our first session came to an end, we decided that future lessons would take the form of my driving the Oswalds around town and having Marina correct my practical Russian as I pointed out landmarks. This, we reasoned, would be better for my language skills and help Marina learn the city. But we all knew it would also greatly benefit their ability to run errands. At the time, I thought that Lee, who did not have a driver’s license, seemed to recognize that I was doing his young family a favor. As I was leaving their house, he raced to the bedroom and returned with a faded pocket English-Russian dictionary that he used during his time in Minsk. “Take this,” Lee told me. Only later did I realize that Oswald was showing off in front of Marina, pointing out that he didn’t need the dictionary but that I did.

On a typical lesson evening, I would show up around 6:30, when Lee got home from his welder’s job. We would climb into my yellow Buick and drive by department stores or Montgomery Ward, and I’d bring them back home by 10. These were lean times for the Oswalds, but they weren’t without hope. During a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Oswald exuded an air of optimism. He was back in America with a beautiful wife and an adorable daughter; his life ahead promised more study and a possible university degree; a publisher would surely understand the value of his memoir, and he could use it as a platform to further the socialist causes in which he believed. Marina would understand what kind of man he really was.

But over the course of those months, it became harder for him to convince her of his exceptionalism. Early that summer, Lee brought home a catalog and class schedule from Texas Christian University, and we eventually decided to drive to the T.C.U. campus so Lee could talk to a school official. He dressed for the occasion, as I remember it, in dark slacks and a white shirt, but when we arrived, he motioned for Marina and me to wait at a distance while he had a whispered consultation with the woman at a desk. They spoke for a while, but when Lee rejoined us, he was sullen and quiet. (At the time, I didn’t realize he hadn’t graduated from high school.) On other nights, the Oswalds would walk down the aisles of the inexpensive Leonard Brothers department store and whisper intently beside the produce section before a final selection was made. Lee, who controlled the budget, would then haggle over prices, particularly with meat. (He often did so, almost humorously, with a smile on his face.) We usually left with only one bag of groceries, which kept the Oswalds going for a week.

On these shopping trips, I soon realized, Marina couldn’t help noticing that other mothers were buying more, dressing better and even driving their own cars. At the same time, she seemed to be tiring of her husband’s radical ideas. During one of Lee’s lectures about Castro’s Cuba, Marina, who had lived her whole life under Communism, interrupted to say that the Soviet Union was foolishly spending its precious resources to prop up Cuba. They had so little in Minsk anyway, she said, why waste money on a faraway nation that offered her fellow citizens little besides expensive sugar? Though he constantly toted volumes about politics and eagerly name-checked “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital,” it soon became clear to me that Oswald had no real understanding of Communism beyond Marx’s appeal for workers to unite.

At the bottom of the Oswalds’ conflict, I thought, was Lee’s refusal to let Marina learn English. He argued that it would jeopardize his fluency in Russian, but more important, it was a way he leveraged control over her. During one visit to a Rexall drugstore that August, Lee became visibly angry when a pharmacist offered to hire Marina, who had worked at a hospital pharmacy in Minsk, once her language skills improved. The job, after all, could have made her the family breadwinner. That rage would resurface later that month as we exited the duplex one evening. Marina took a step backward and fell, thumping her head on the hard, dry ground and dropping June. The thud was so loud that I feared she might be seriously injured; Lee, however, screamed at her for her clumsiness as she lay curled on the ground clutching for her baby. Even after he realized June was fine, he didn’t speak to Marina for the rest of the night.

After a couple of months of lessons, my parents’ Russian émigré circle became curious about my new friends. So on Aug. 25, 1962, we invited the Oswalds to a small dinner party at our house. George Bouhe, a dapper bachelor who took it upon himself to be a one-man social-service department for new Russian-speaking immigrants, was particularly eager to meet Marina. After all, they each grew up in what is now St. Petersburg. But as a true patriot of his adopted country, he was wary of her husband for leaving the U.S. for the Soviet Union.

Soon after I arrived with the Oswalds, Marina and Bouhe repaired to the living room. He brought along maps of St. Petersburg at various stages of its history, and they spread them out on the floor and huddled together, pointing at various landmarks. Bouhe was impressed that Marina spoke educated Russian and that her grandmother had attended an exclusive girls’ school. Marina also disclosed that her grandmother was religious, which was particularly pleasing to Bouhe because he organized Russian Orthodox services in Dallas. After a short while, he concluded that he would do whatever he could for this young woman, even if that meant helping her husband, who had sulked off to the den, waiting to be called to the table.

When dinner was served, Bouhe kept things light by asking Lee and Marina about life in Minsk. Yet I recall that his companion for the evening, a Russian woman named Anna Meller, couldn’t resist asking the question we all secretly wanted answered — why had Lee defected to the Soviet Union? Lee, who had been on his best behavior and even wore a sports jacket to dinner, suddenly became agitated and defensive. His voice rose, but what came out were canned slogans — he left because capitalism was a terrible system, it exploited the workers, the poor got nothing and so forth. Meller would not let him off the hook, though. The Soviet Union was a miserable place to live, she continued, so why had he left a country that was so wonderful and hospitable? Lee responded defensively that, yes, he did not think that the party faithful believed in Communism anymore but that this did not make America a great place.

Later in the evening, Bouhe and Meller began to insist that Marina needed to learn English if she was to survive in America. In fact, Bouhe noted, he had arranged English lessons for many Russian émigrés; he could do the same for her. Now Lee’s voice rose again. If he allowed Marina to learn English, he said, his Russian would suffer, and it was very important that he retain his fluency. Anna Meller could scarcely control her anger over his selfish behavior. Dinner ended abruptly.

As the summer drew to a close, before I returned to Norman for my senior year at O.U., I went to the Oswalds’ for my final language lesson. Because we had never agreed on a fee for my lessons, my father and I decided to pay Marina $35. It was a considerable sum (at one time, Lee gave her $2 a week from his earnings), but she refused it immediately — friends, she said, did not accept money from one another. After I insisted, she said she had never had such a sum of money in her life and planned to go right to Montgomery Ward. As a sign of her gratitude, she gave me a memento from her days in the Communist youth league — a pin of Lenin’s image, chin jutted out in a defiant but thoughtful pose. I accepted her gift gratefully and noticed that Bouhe and Meller seemed to have provided a playpen, used clothes and other amenities in the Oswald home. (In the past, I saw baby June sleep on a blanket atop a suitcase.) I asked Marina whether she had followed Bouhe’s urgings and begun to learn English. She shrugged. She would get around to it one of these days, she said.

Two months later, I peered into the mailbox of my student walk-up in Norman and extracted a penny postcard, which had been handwritten and posted two days earlier from 602 Elsbeth Street, Dallas. “Dear Paul!” it read, “We have moved to Dallas where we have found a nice apartment and I have found work in a very nice place, we would like you too [sic] come and see us as soon as you get a chance,” before eventually signing off in Russian. I was certainly relieved to hear that the Oswalds were doing well, and I assumed, from the spelling and punctuation mistakes, that Marina had written the letter and was getting the hang of English. I wrote her a response telling her as much, politely suggesting a few points about punctuation. Marina had always seemed eager to impress on me the finer points of grammar during our Russian conversations. I assumed she would appreciate the thought.

But a week and a half later, after I returned to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving, I answered our single phone at the bottom of the staircase. Marina, who was calling from Robert Oswald’s house in Fort Worth, said immediately: “I did not write that letter. Lee did.” Her tone told me all I needed to know; Lee had been deeply insulted and mortified by my response. Marina then told me she was unhappy. She hinted at physical abuse and explained that she had left him only to reconcile after he pleaded for her to attend Thanksgiving at his brother’s house. For the time being, he was treating her better, but she did not know for how long. Would I mind coming over? Perhaps a visit might remind them of better times.

I arrived at Robert’s house as the guests were leaving and then drove Lee, Marina and June back to our house. We said hello to my parents and went into the kitchen to prepare some turkey sandwiches. I tried to keep the conversation casual, but Marina began complaining about Lee even as he sat beside her, largely silent. He treated her Russian friends poorly, she said, and tried to keep her isolated in the house, doing the grocery shopping himself. I listened uncomfortably, sensing his hostility at me for suggesting that he, a self-styled intellectual keeping a “Historic Diary,” could not write or punctuate any better than someone just learning English. After an hour or so, I drove them downtown to the bus station for their ride back to Dallas. Marina waved goodbye from the steps. It was Nov. 22, 1962. I never saw them again.

On the Saturday morning after Kennedy was killed, I was sitting in my small apartment in Norman when a Secret Service agent and the local chief of police arrived and took me some 20 miles down I-35 to Oklahoma City for questioning. As we drove, I began telling them about how I met Oswald, the evenings driving around Fort Worth, the Dallas Russians and how a college kid got caught up with an accused assassin. After they escorted me into a nondescript conference room in a downtown building, the agents homed in on the question of the day, which, of course, has lingered over the past 50 years: Did I think Oswald worked alone or was part of a larger conspiracy? I told them simply that, if I were organizing a conspiracy, he would have been the last person I would recruit. He was too difficult and unreliable.

Over the years, despite public-opinion polls, many others have agreed. The opening of formerly secret archives in Russia indicate that the K.G.B. didn’t want to recruit Oswald. Cuban intelligence officers, a K.G.B. agent or two, Mafia bosses and even C.I.A. officers (including, supposedly, members of Nixon’s “plumbers” team) have somehow been tied to Oswald’s actions that day, but it’s difficult to understand how these conspiracy theories would have worked. Oswald, after all, fled the Texas School Book Depository by Dallas’s notably unreliable public-transportation system.

It’s discomfiting to think that history could have been altered by such a small player, but over the years, I’ve realized that was part of Oswald’s goal. I entered his life at just the moment that he was trying to prove, particularly to his skeptical wife, that he was truly exceptional. But during those months, his assertion was rapidly losing credibility. Marina would later tell the Warren Commission, through a translator, about “his imagination, his fantasy, which was quite unfounded, as to the fact that he was an outstanding man.” Perhaps he chose what seemed like the only remaining shortcut to going down in history. On April 10, 1963, Oswald used a rifle with a telescopic sight to fire a bullet into the Dallas home of Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, the conservative war hero, narrowly missing his head. Oswald told his wife about the assassination attempt, but she never told authorities before Kennedy’s death.

Seven months later, a far greater target would be scheduled to pass by the very building where he worked. As Priscilla Johnson McMillan writes in her book, “Marina and Lee,” the president’s route under Oswald’s workplace might have convinced him that fate had provided a unique opportunity. “The whole series of frustrations had now brought him to this final stage,” Robert Oswald writes in his memoir. “The discouragements and disappointments beginning in his childhood, continuing through the school years and the years in the Marines, the death of his dream of a new life in Russia, the boring jobs back in the United States, which made it impossible to support Marina adequately and gain some recognition as a man . . . the whole pattern of failure throughout most of his 23 years led to the outbursts of violence in April and the final tragedy in November 1963.”

Robert Oswald told me in September that he had not talked to Marina in quite a while. When I reached him by phone at his home, he had the wary tone of a man who has spent half a century answering for someone else. He recalled my father fondly (“Pete Gregory was a good guy,” he said) but politely refused to recount his experience yet again. Agent Mike Howard of the Secret Service told me he had not spoken to Marina since the exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald’s body in 1981. But he recalled with clarity the frantic image of Marguerite Oswald roaming around the suite at Six Flags; he also remembered that she hid a bayonet under a pillow.

Two years after the Kennedy assassination, Marina married Kenneth Porter, an electronics technician who has effectively protected her from the media. They had a son and now live in a central Texas town, not far from Dallas. This summer, with the 50th anniversary of the J.F.K. assassination looming, I sent Marina a personal letter and a written recollection of our time together and followed up this fall with a phone call. Her husband answered and confirmed that Marina had received the package but said that she had not read my reflections and did not wish to speak. Their son, Mark Porter, listened to my stories about his mother’s arrival in Fort Worth in 1962 but declined to be interviewed.

Fifty years later, I would love to ask Marina Oswald Porter why that Time magazine never moved, what happened when Lee received my letter in Dallas and why she has continued to make her home so near the place where tragedy struck. On the other hand, I would also just like to speak with an old friend. Fifty years is a long time.

Paul Gregory is the Cullen professor of economics at the University of Houston and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His most recent book is ‘‘Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives.’’

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Guest Robert Morrow
  1. "On April 10, 1963, Oswald used a rifle with a telescopic sight to fire a bullet into the Dallas home of Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, the conservative war hero, narrowly missing his head. Oswald told his wife about the assassination attempt, but she never told authorities before Kennedy’s death."

Complete and utter garbage, all a part of the post JFK assassination attempt to frame Oswald. Marina Oswald in 1963-64 was a marionette doll for US intelligence and told them what they put in mouth and asked to be spit out. Ditto the attempt on Richard Nixon.

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Guest Robert Morrow
  • "My father now understood that the woman on the other end of the line, Marguerite Oswald, must have taken his class to communicate with her daughter-in-law, Marina, who spoke little English. It was also clear why she needed his help. Two days earlier, Marguerite’s son shot the president of the United States."

Those clowns at the NYT are spectacularly devoted to the cover up of the murder of John Kennedy, aren't they?

Question for the NYT clowns, how does Oswald - who everyone admits was physically present in the TSBD even if he was not a shooter, how does "Oswald" knock JFK's head "back and to the left" from a head kill shot from the Grassy Knoll?

How does Oswald shoot JFK from the front in the throat, as four Parkland doctors said on the day of the JFK assassination?

How does Oswald magically teleport himself into the front of JFK's limo and shoot the poor man first in the throat and then in the front right temple, nearly blowing his head off?

The NYT and the CFR Council on Foreign Relations are absolutely terminal on this issue and they deserve complete and utter contempt.

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Guest Robert Morrow

How many Phi Beta Kappas do you know who are hilariously misinformed on the JFK assassination? Well, there is George Herbert Walker Bush - Texas CIA who probably helped to murder the man and who Phi Beta Kappa that he is says he can't remember where he was on the day of the assassination.

There is Gerald Posner, Phi Beta Kappa and his ridiculous CFR, CIA promoted book on the JFK Asssassination; Case Closed.

Then there is Paul Gregory, Oswald's friend, Phi Beta Kappa, who must think his old friend Oswald shot JFK from the front in the throat and also blowing his head backwards, all while 88 years to the rear of JFK's limo (supposedly in the TSBD).


Paul R. Gregory


Department of Economics, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-5882
Ph.: (713) 743-3828
FAX: (713) 743-3798


Ph.D., Harvard University, 1969, Economics
Graduate Study in Economics, Free University of Berlin, 1964-65
M.A., University of Oklahoma, 1964, Russian
B.A., University of Oklahoma, 1963, Economics


1993-present Cullen Professor of Economics, University of Houston
1989-92 Baker Hughes Professor of Economics and Finance, University of Houston
Professor of Economics (1975-present), University of Houston
Associate Professor of Economics (1972-75), University of Houston
1969-72 Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Oklahoma
1967-69 Teaching Assistant, Harvard University
1966-69 Staff, Harvard University Russian Research Center


Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Omicron Delta Kappa, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, NDFL Fellowship, NDEA Fellowship, Foreign Area Fellowship, Free University of Berlin Award, Bass Memorial Fellowship, Volkswagen Senior Fellow for Advanced Soviet and East European Studies.


Principal Investigator, Ford-Rockefeller Grant in Population Research, 1972-73.
Principal Investigator, National Institute of Education Grant, 1973-75.
Principal Investigator, Manpower Administration Grant, 1974, 1976-77, 1977-78.
Principal Investigator, PHS-Center for Population Research Grant, 1975-76.
Principal Investigator, NSF Grants in Economics, 1978-81, 1988-90,1991-93, 1997-20001
Principal Investigator, Economic Bureaucracy Project, Soviet Interview Project, 1979 to 1988.
Principal Investigator, National Council for Soviet and East European Research, 1978-79, 1981-82 1992.
Principal Investigator, Transcoop Grant with DIW Berlin, 1995-1997.


Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Economics, University of Houston, 1974-77.
Chairman, Department of Economics, University of Houston, 1982-85.
Coordinator, Economics Special Projects, Soviet Interview Project, 1981-1986.
Project Coordinator, Russian Petroleum Leigslation Project, UH Law Center, 1991-1993.


Visiting Scholar, Humboldt Fellow, Institute fuer Osteuropaische Geschichte, University of Tubingen, Summer 1975-1977.
International Volkswagen Fellow, Bundesinstitut fur internationale- und ostwissenschaftliche Studien, Cologne, Spring/Summer, 1987.
Visiting Fellow, Population, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, Spring/Summer 1980.
Visiting Professor, Economic History, Moscow State University, November/December, 1996.
Advisor to Ministry of Economics of Ukraine, November 1998-January 1999.
Visiting Professor of Economics, Europe-University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Summer semester, 1999.
Visiting Fellow, Deutsches Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung- Berlin, Summer, 1999.


Comparative Economic Studies
Slavic Review
Journal of Comparative Economics
Problems of Post-Communism.
Explorations in Economic History


Russian - fluent
German - fluent


  • Paul Gregory, Socialist and Non-Socialist Industrialization Patterns (New York: Praeger, 1970).
  • Paul Gregory and Robert Stuart, Soviet and Post Soviet Economic Structure and Performance 6th edition (Reading, Mass.: Addison Wesley, 1997). First edition 1972.
  • Paul Gregory and Robert Stuart, Comparative Economic Systems 6th edition (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997). First edition 1974.
  • Paul Gregory, Russian National Income, 1885-1913 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).
  • Roy Ruffin and Paul Gregory, Principles of Economics 6th (Reading: Addison Wesley, 1997). First edition 1982.
  • Paul Gregory, Restructuring The Soviet Economic Bureaucracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
  • Paul Gregory, Before Command: The Russian Economy From Emancipation to Stalin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
  • Robert Stuart and Paul Gregory, The Russian Economy (New York: Harper Collins, 1995).
  • Paul Gregory, Essentials of Economics 3rd (Reading: Addison Wesley, 1998).

JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS BY FIELD (in chronological order)


  • Paul Gregory, "Economic Growth, U.S. Defense Expenditures and the Soviet Defense Budget: A Suggested Model," Soviet Studies (January, 1974).
  • Paul Gregory, Bruce Fielitz, and Thomas Curtis, "The New Soviet Investment Allocation Rules: A Guide to Rational Investment Planning?" Southern Economic Journal (January, 1974).
  • Paul Gregory, "A Reply to Franz Walter," Soviet Studies (October, 1974).
  • Robert C. Stuart and Paul R. Gregory, "A Model of Soviet Rural-Urban Migration," Economic Development and Cultural Change (October, 1977).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Economic Growth and Structural Change in Czarist Russian and the Soviet Union," Steven Rosefield (ed.), Economic Welfare and the Economics of Soviet Socialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • Paul Gregory, "Productivity, Slack, and Time Theft in the Soviet Economy: Evidence from the Soviet Interview Project," in J. Millar (ed.), Politics, Work, and Daily Life in the Soviet Union, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
  • Paul Gregory and Janet Kohlhase, "Earning Differentials in the Soviet Union: Evidence From the Soviet Interview Project," Review of Economics and Statistics (August 1988).
  • Paul Gregory and Irwin Collier, "Unemployment in the Soviet Union: Evidence from the Soviet Interview Project," American Economic Review (September 1988).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Soviet Bureaucratic Behavior," Soviet Studies (October 1989).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Soviet National Income, 1913-1928," in R.W. Davies (ed.), The Soviet Economy: From NEP to Five Year Plan (London: MacMillan, 1990).
  • Paul Gregory, "The Stalinist Command Model," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Vol. 507, January 1990, pp. 18-26.
  • Paul R. Gregory and Barbara Dietz, "Soviet Perceptions of Economic Conditions During the Stagnation Period: Evidence From Two Diverse Surveys," Soviet Studies, Vol. 43, no. 3, 1991.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Impact of Perestroika on the Soviet Planned Economy: Results of a Survey of Moscow Economic Officials," Soviet Studies, 1991.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Bureaucrats, Managers, and Perestroika," The Soviet Economy Under Gorbachev (NATO: Brussels, 1992).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Communist Party and the Economic Bureaucracy in the Soviet Union," in James Millar (ed.), Cracks in the Monolith: Party Power in the Brezhnev Era (New York: Share, 1992).
  • M. Mokhtari and Paul Gregory, "Backward Bends, Quantity Constraints, and Soviet Labor Supply: Evidence from the Soviet Interview Project," International Economic Review, 34, 1, February 1993.
  • James Millar, Paul Gregory, et. al., "An Evaluation of the CIA's Analysis of Soviet Economic Performance, 1970-90," Comparative Economic Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Summer 1993).
  • Paul Gregory, "Money and Banking," The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Paul Gregory, N. Asgary, and M. Mokhtari, "Money Demand and Quantity Constraints: Evidence from Soviet Interview Project," Economic Inquiry (April 1997)


  • Paul R. Gregory, "Soviet Bureaucracy and Economic Reform," in William S. Kern (ed.), From Socialism to Market Economy: The Transition Problem (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Upjohn Institute, 1992).
  • J. Ivancevich, R. DeFrank and P. Gregory, "The Soviet Enterprise Director," Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1992.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Creating a Legislative Framework for a Market in Energy Resources," Houston Journal of International Law, Spring 1993.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Unemployment and Search in Emerging Capitalist Economies," Department of Labor, Economic Statistics for Economies in Transition, Washington, D.C., 1993.
  • Paul Gregory, "Sketches of New Russians," Problems of Post Communism, Sept/October 1996.
  • Paul Gregory, M. Mokhtari and W. Schrettl, "Do Russians Really Save That Much? Evidence from RLMS," Review of Economics and Statistics, in press, 2000.
  • Paul Gregory, "Has Russia’s Transition Been a Failure?" Problems of Post-Communism (November/December 1997).
  • Paul Gregory, "Macroeconomic Policy, Structural Factors, and Poverty: the Russian and Ukrainian Transitions," Workshop on Knowledge Networking for Poverty Reduction, United Nations Development Programme, New York, Sept. 11-12, 1997.
  • Paul Gregory, "Transition Economies: Social Consequences of Transition, United Nations Development Programme, January, 1998.


  • Paul Gregory, "Some Empirical Comments on the Theory of Relative Backwardness: The Case of Russia," Economic Development and Cultural Change (May, 1974).
  • Paul Gregory, "A Note on Relative Backwardness and Industrial Structure," Quarterly Journal of Economics (August, 1974).
  • Paul Gregory and James Griffin, "Secular and Cross Section Industrialization Patterns Controversy," Review of Economics and Statistics (August, 1974).
  • Paul Gregory, "Economic Development and Structural Change in Tsarist Russia: A Case of Modern Economic Growth?" Soviet Studies, January 1972. Reprinted in German Translation in D. Geyer (ed.) Wirtschaft and Gesellschaft in Vorrevolutionaren Russland (1975).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Russian National Income in 1913 - Some Insights Into Russian Economic Development," Quarterly Journal of Economics (August, 1976).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Russian Industrialization: A Survey of the Western Literature," Jahrbucher fur die Geschichte Osteuropas (December, 1976).
  • Paul R. Gregory and Joel Sailors, "Russian Monetary Policy and Industrialization," Journal of Economic History (December, 1976).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Russian Industrialization Experience: Some Observations on Savings, Absorptive Capacity and Balance of Payments," Soviet Union, Vol. 4, (1977).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Russian Balance of Payments, The Gold Standard and Monetary Policy: A Historical Example of Foreign Capital Movements," Journal of Economic History (June 1979).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Russian Living Standard During the Industrialization Era," Review of Income and Wealth, 1980.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Grain Marketings and Peasant Consumption," Explorations in Economic History, 17, 1980.
  • Paul R. Gregory, Badi Baltagi, and Joel Sailors, "How the Gold Standard Worked 1880-1914. Intercountry and Intertemporal Evidence," NBER Conference: A Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard, March 18-21.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Soviet Agrarian Crisis Revisited," in Robert Stuart (ed.), Soviet Rural Economy, 1984.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Role of the State in Promoting Economic Development: The Russian Case and its General Implications," in R. Sylla and G. Toniolo (eds), Patterns of European Industrialization: the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge, 1991).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Rents, Land Prices, and Economic Theory," in L. Edmundson (ed.), Essays on Russian Economic History in Honor of Olga Crisp (London: MacMillan, 1990).
  • Paul R. Gregory and M. Mokhtari, "Grain Collections and Collectivization," Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 30, 1992.
  • John Antel and Paul Gregory, "Grain Marketings and the Terms of Trade," Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1993.
  • Paul Gregory, "Russia and Europe: Lessons from the Pre-Command Era," in R. Tilly and P. Welfens (eds), European Economic Integration as a Challenge to Industry and Government (Berlin: Springer, 1996).
  • Paul Gregory and Joel Sailors, "Russia During the Great Depression," in Theo Balderston (ed.), World Economy and National Economies in the Interwar Slump (London: MacMIllan, 2000 forthcoming).


  • Paul Gregory, "Normal Comparisons of Industrial Structures in East and West Germany," Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Band 104 (1970).
  • Paul Gregory, "Cross Section Comparisons of the Structure of GNP by Sector of Origin: Socialist and Western Countries," Kyklos, Vol. XXIV (1971).
  • Robert Stuart and Paul Gregory, "The Structural Convergence of Economic Systems," Yearbook of East European Economics, Band 2 (1971).
  • Paul Gregory, "A Model of Socialist Industrial Wage Differentials," Quarterly Journal of Economics (February, 1973).
  • Paul Gregory, "Some Indirect Estimates of Eastern European Capital Stocks and Factor Productivity," Soviet Studies (January, 1975).
  • Paul R. Gregory and Gert Leptin, "Similar Societies Under Differing Economic Systems: The Case of Two Germanys," Soviet Studies, 29 (October 1977). Reprinted in Morris Bornstein (ed), Comparative Economic Systems 4th ed. (Irwin 1978).


  • Paul Gregory, John Campbell, and Benjamin Cheng, "A Cost-Inclusive Simultaneous Equation Model of Birth Rates," Econometrica, Vol. 40, No. 4 (1972).
  • Paul Gregory, John Campbell, and Benjamin Cheng, "A Simultaneous Equation Model of Birth Rates in the United States," Review of Economics and Statistics (November, 1972).
  • Paul Gregory, John Campbell, and Benjamin Cheng, "Differences in Fertility Determinants: Developed and Developing Countries," The Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (January, 1973).
  • Paul Gregory and John Campbell, "A Model of Fertility Interactions," in M. Keeley (ed.), Fertility and Economic Development (New York: Praeger, 1975).
  • Paul Gregory and John M. Campbell, "Fertility Interactions and Modernization Turning Points: A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Fertility," Journal of Political Economy (August, 1976).
  • Paul R. Gregory and R. William Thomas, "The Micro-Economic Foundations of Generational Crowding," American Statistical Association Proceedings, 1980.
  • Paul R. Gregory, "A Model of Fertility and Labor Force Behavior in the USSR and Eastern Europe," Review of Economics and Statistics, 1982.
  • Paul Gregory, "Soviet Theories of Fertility," Journal of Comparative Economics, Spring, 1983.
  • Paul Gregory and M. Mokhtari, "Fertility and the Household Economy: Evidence from the Russian Longitudinal Survey," in J. Fleishhacker and R. Muenz (eds.), Gesellschaft und Bevoelkerung in Mittel- und Osteuropa im Umbruch (Berlin:DGBw, 1997).


  • James Griffin and Paul Gregory, "An Intercountry Translog Model of Energy Substitution Response," American Economic Review (December, 1976).
  • Paul R. Gregory, "Comment: Energy Price Increases and the Productivity Slowdown in United States Manufacturing," The Decline in Productivity Growth, (Boston: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1980).
  • Paul Gregory, "The Legal Regime," in Emirate Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Thr Caspian Energy Resource: Implications for the Arab Gulf (Abu Dahbi: ECSSE, 1999).


  • Problems of Economic Transition in the Soviet Union, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, December 1989 (in conjunction with USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of Economics, Moscow).
  • Problems of Economic Transition, Part II, Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1990 (in conjunction with the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences, Moscow and Georgia branches).
  • The Lessons of Capitalism: Seminar series of five lecturers from the University of Houston, sponsored in conjunction with the USSR Academy of Sciences, the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Literaturnaya Gazeta, the Academy for the National Economy. Seminars held in Moscow and Riga in March of 1990.
  • The Legislative Framework of Soviet Reform: Conference sponsored by the Law Foundation the Center for Public Policy of the University of Houston with five speakers from the Soviet Union. December 1990. Four Seasons Hotel, Houston, Texas.
  • Russian Petroleum Legislation: A Forum for Discussion, November 10, 1992, Westin Oaks Hotel, Houston, Texas. This conference brought 15 Russian legislators and legal drafting experts to Houston to discuss impending Russian petroleum legislation.
  • A Management Training Program for Russia: This was a management training program conducted by the College of Business Administration of the University of Houston in May of 1989, 1990, and 1991 sponsored by the Cullen Foundation in Moscow and Leningrad.
  • Energy in the Former Soviet Union: Industrial Structure, Demonopolization, and Financing, Oxford University, March 20-21, 1998.


  • "Gosplan v perekhodnom periode," presented at the State Planning Commission of the USSR, May 1989.
  • "Investitsionny rynok v perekhodnom periode," presented at the State Committee for Science and Technology, March 1990.
  • "Rynok finansovogo kapitala v SSHA i problemy finansirovaniya sovetskikh investitsii," presented at conference "Ekonomika i stroitelstvo," Moscow, May 1990, published in Ekonimika stroitelstva, December 1990.
  • "Metody istoricheskogo analiza," Conference on Historical Analysis, USSR academy of Sciences, Institute of History, Moscow, April 3, 1991.
  • "Rynok truda v perekhodnom periode," presented at the State Committee for Labor, Moscow, May 1991.
  • "Sravnitelny analiz v ekonomicheskom issledovanii," Moscow State University, December 1997.


  • Paul Gregory and G. Zoteev, Ekonomicheski rost: sravnitelny analiz lhozaistvennykh sistem (Rossii - SSSR), Kommunist, 1991.
  • Paul Gregory, "Programma s obtratnym deistviem," Literaturnaya gazeta, June 26, 1990.
  • Paul Gregory, "Vstrechi na vtorom etazhe," Literaturnaya Gazeta, May 23, 1990.
  • Paul Gregory, Biurokratiia i perestroika," Institute of Economics, USSR, Problemy perekhoda k reguliruemomu rynku v SSSR (Moscow: Academy of Sciences of USSR, 1990).
  • Paul Gregory, "Byla Rossiskaia reforma tak neudachna?" Voprosy ekonomiki, 1998.
  • Paul Gregory, Natsional’ny dokhod Rossii (Moscow: Rosspen, forthcoming 1999).


  • Paul R. Gregory, "The Institutional Background of Reform: The Soviet Economic Bureaucracy," BIOST Working Paper, Cologne, 1989.
  • "Soviet Science and Technology," Foreign Applied Sciences Assessment Center, October 15, 1985 (Robert Campbell, H.D. Balzer, J. Berliner, R. Dobson, and P. Gregory).
  • Member of Committee of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Congress, "An Evaluation of the CIA's Analysis of Soviet Economic Performance," Washington, D.C., November 18, 1991 (James Millar, Daniel Berkowitz, Joseph Berliner, Paul Gregory, Susan Linz).
  • Report of the University of Houston Law Center Russian Petroleum Legislation Project, December 31, 1992 (Paul Gregory, J. Weaver, G. Conine, W. P. Streng, and P. Godley).
  • Paul Gregory, "Battling Scenarios: A More Optimistic View," presented at Conference on the Prospects for the Russian Economy, 1997-2000, U.S. Department of State and CIA, June 25-26, 1997, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Paul Gregory, "The Russian Oil and Gas Industry in Transition," University of Houston CBA Energy Institute Working Paper, June 1997.
  • Member Editorial Board, Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS, Poverty in Transition (New York: United Nations Development Programme, 1998).


  • High-Level Decision Making in the Soviet Administrative Planned Economy: Evidence from Soviet State and Party Archives, funded by the National Science Foundation. Working Papers:
    • Valery Lazarev and Paul Gregory, "Dictators and Cars."
    • Paul Gregory, "Planners Preferences: Evidence from the Soviet Archives."
    • Alex Tikhonov and Paul Gregory, "Creating the Soviet Financial System."
    • Eugenia Belova and Paul Gregory, "Gosplan Versus the Ministries."
  • Income Distribution in Eastern Germany and in Russia (with Gert Wagner and Hans-Juergen Wagener).
  • Cascading Capital Investment Models for Russia (with Wolfram Schrettl and M. Mokhtari).
Edited by Robert Morrow
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